Thursday, December 13, 2012

Prepping in Social Media

In case you haven't had a chance, there are multiple outlets for The Reluctant Prepper.

Twitter: @ReluctPrep
I like Twitter, I really do. However, some people seem to do all of their talking through Twitter. I am following some people that do 30-60 updates a day. It clogs the Twitter-verse with the same, canned, recycled proclamations every hour. That is just too much. Follow me and I will not bother you that much, I promise.

You have a Facebook account, so you might as well "like me." Generally, I re-tweet on Twitter and compose original stuff on Facebook that then automatically updates to Twitter.

If you are not on Pinterest, you are missing a whole new world. If you are more of a picture book person (like me) than a novel person, you will absolutely love it.

Feel free to follow!

Monday, December 10, 2012

“I’ll Just Grow My Own Food”

           Ever hear anyone say this? My reply is, “Have you ever tried that before?” Growing food is not easy. It is labor intensive and requires, at minimum, seeds, space and water. Oh boy, is that making it much simpler than it is.
            Let’s set up a survival scenario. Society has collapsed due to economic troubles, natural disaster, or some outside military influence. Let’s say the worst part is over. The physically weak have died off and order has been restored to some degree (at least regionally). Your limited stored food preps have held out. But there is no deliver trucks rolling to the grocery store which has long since been cleaned out. You still have a few months worth of food, but you need another food source soon to augment it. You can forage around for food, but there are a lot of other people foraging, as well. And how well do you know your edible, wild plants? (That’s a whole other blog entry, I promise) Do the work now so you don’t have to become an “overnight expert.”

Seeds. What kind of seeds should you buy? Well, you should buy a variety of seeds that are shown to do well in your climate and in your soil. You need some fast growing seeds (like radish or other green, leafy that can be edible in as early as a month), some seeds for sprouts (alfalfa sprouts can be ready in a few days) and some seeds that provide more substantial sustenance including essential vitamins and minerals (like, kale or corn).  Instead of giving you a long list of seed to look for, I will bow to the masters that have already done the work for you. Remember 2 vital things: heirloom or organic seed is best since you will want to save some of the next planting and you need to store your seed in a cool, dry place.
            You may need to fertilizer, too. Luckily, that is easy to come by since you make it yourself. Also, composting is a good idea. And, of course, try to choose seed that you will actually eat. A five gallon bucket of okra is nice, but if no one is willing to eat okra it is useless. Sure, you might feel differently if you are starving, but why not plan ahead and get something you like.

Space. There is dirt everywhere, right? Well, not all dirt is equal. You will need fertile soil for your garden and lots of it. A lot of bare ground is bare for a reason. It has been drenched in herbicide or is completely devoid of nutrients for plant growth. Neither is going to give you much edible plant material. How about if you live in an apartment? Sure, the building has land, but you don’t own it and will have a tough time defending it from foragers who see a meal. Containers would be a start, but you are not going to get super yields from a small container garden on your patio. It takes a lot of space to grow enough plant material for you and your family to live on. Of course, any food will be helpful. A community garden would be even better since you can share the burden and defense of it.
            Let’s summarize: You need to find space close to where you will be living. It needs to be secure, either behind a fence or hidden to some degree. The soil needs to be good for growing (are there plants already growing on it?). There needs to be at least 8 hours of full sun each day.

Water. Pure and simple, plants, like us, need water. Growing plants need a lot of water. Maybe you’ve heard of dryland farming. Don’t rely on the clouds to give you all your water. You need access to plenty of water. A hand pumped well, a canal, a reservoir, or even city water if you still have it. Sure, some areas get lots of rain in the growing season, but you can’t count on it. Rain barrels attached to your rain gutters or some other catchment system would help augment any shortages of water.

           We call it “Prepping” for a reason. If you have never grown a large garden, you had better start now. There is a lot of knowledge that can only be learned from doing it. Pledge to grow a small garden in your back yard this Spring. You have plenty of time to prepare over the next couple of months. I recommend people build raised beds in their yards since they are much easier to tend. Research the types of seeds you can grow AND that you would likely eat. Ten healthy Kale plants are beautiful and nutritious, but if no one eats kale you just wasted a lot of time and resources.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Prepper Stocking Stuffers, Pt.3

Water is the most important part of your preparation. Having safe, potable water will save your life in any environment. I guess that is why I concentrate so much on it. In the near future, I am going to discuss rain barrels, but for now I will look to portable water solutions. The SteriPen is awesome if you find a water source and you’re not sure it is safe. The SteriPen is small, but does a big job: Saving your butt! There are several kits you can buy, but really all you need is the basic SteriPen, some cheese cloth and some back up batteries in your bug out kit and you are set for roaming.
Everyone should have a first aid kit in their home and vehicle. That is a no-brainer. For Preppers, we tend to do a little better than your basic First Aid Kit. You can go all out and buy an emergency room in a bag, but that is not really a stocking stuffer, is it? My pick would be the Tactical Trauma kit sold by For $30, you get a lot. I won’t list it all, but trust me, it is a lot more than your Target brand hard pack. This one is on my list of near future acquisitions.
Any Prepper worth his own salt needs to have a green thumb. Some people, though, are short on space. Using a Mini-Greenhouse to get your seed sprouted or even using it to maintain to small garden is a great start. I’ve used these in the past and even added my own grow lights to the back for continued growth and warmth in the winter months. Perfect if you only have a patio or porch.
What? You don’t have a Tactical Tomahawk yet? Besides being a formidable weapon for close quarters defense or short distance throwing (I throw mine across the yard in “some” accuracy), they are a great tool for digging, scoring and chopping small, wood things. And don’t rule out the cool factor. Strap one of these babies on your hip for your next camping trip and watch everyone’s eyes move to it as you walk by.
            My final recommendation is a little more loose. I have recently begun to search for more hand tools. By hand tools, I mean the opposite of power tools. Things like drills and files and planers and such that allow you to make or break things without any power other than living tissue. You can never have too many hammers! Do you even own an axe or a hatchet? How about a rough tooth saw? And let’s not forget the kitchen. There are choppers, hand blenders, sifters, and all manner of knives for breaking down dead animals. They not only have a cool, antique display factor, but they actually get the job done. Flea markets and “antique” stores are great places to find these things.
I hope you enjoyed these lists. While I certainly didn’t cover everything, hopefully you found something for that wide-eyed Prepper in your family. You should definitely check out some of the other Prepper websites for more ideas or if you are looking to spend a little more. There is a list of some of my favorites on the right side of this page.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Prepper Stocking Stuffers, Pt. 2

            We all have that person that is sooooo hard to buy for. Maybe they have a lot of things. Maybe they don’t like anything you buy them. Maybe they just don’t want you to “waste your money” on them. This is the beauty of being a Prepper. We believe in redundancy. We LIVE redundancy. It doesn’t matter if it is an item you already own or that already have two of. We love to have backups for our backups. So, if you are reading this guide, feel free to pick up any of these items or similar items for that Prepper, or potential Prepper, on your list.
            Water is so important to our survival. Having an adequate supply can not only save your life, but those in your care. The WaterBOB is simple. It is a large plastic container for holding 100 gallons of clean water for short term use. It is made of food grade plastic and folds up to the size of a folded bed sheet for easy storage. This is not something to tote around with you when there is water in it. This is best used in the bathtub or other container that is a snug fit. While the plastic strong, I have serious doubts if it would last long full of water with no support for its walls. I have not used one myself, but I have seen them used by others successfully. A great little Prepper item for around $25.
            Fire is a big deal. The ability to make fire separates us from the other animals. Sure, you can rub two sticks together or scrape some fire steel. You can make tinder from cotton balls and sawdust. However, the old standby is waterproof matches like these from Cabela’s. There is no school like the old school. I remember getting a set of waterproof matches in a waterproof holder years ago and they were viable for many years. Having your matches in a waterproof container is important because the matches are often made of wood. If the wood is wet for too long, it goes limp from water log. Just try and start a fire from a limp match (oh boy…). Yep, you can waterproof your own “strike anywhere” matches (and I suggest you do  for your own long term supplies) but for a gift you may as well shell out the six or seven bucks and get a great holder for the matches, too.. I’ve used this brand of waterproof match and it works well even when soaked. Plus, it actually does fit in a stocking.
            Maybe you know someone who is just starting out with Prepping, but is serious. There is no one person in the world better schooled on Prepping than James Wesley, Rawles. While I still don’t know why there is a comma in his name, the man knows his business. His “Patriot” series of books is a must read for all serious Peppers, but for beginners I suggest his book “How to Survive The End Of The World As We Know It: Tactics, Techniques And Technologies For Uncertain Times.” It is a compendium of things you can do to help you plan and prepare for just about any catastrophic event. It is a very dry read, but the information is solid, tested and easy to find. It is worth so much more than the $10 or so you will pay for it. I have it on Kindle, audio and paper form.
More next time!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Prepper Stocking Stuffer, Pt. 1

            It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Time to start dropping hints about what you would like for Christmas (besides peace on Earth and all that) and what you can get for others. Now, if you have the bucks, you might be looking at things like generators and shelters. However, I’m thinking of more “modest” concerns. What kind of quality, useful Prepper items can I get or give for under $50?
            My favorite item would be the LifeStraw. The LifeStraw filters 99.999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.99% of parasites. There is no protection from virus’ in the guarantee, but their larger, family version will offer it. You cannot ask for better protection than that for about $25 with shipping. Perfect for a stocking stuffer, gift exchange and just a gift that says, “I care about you and your ability to find a clean drink of water.”

            My second item is a little more expensive, but probably more helpful in your daily life. The Freeloader Pico Solar Charger is a back-up battery that can be charged by a USB outlet or the sun. Unlike other solar chargers that send the charge to the battery in your device, this device is a battery, a very good battery, that can run almost any small electronics. At about $45 with shipping, you can buy this and throw it in your Faraday cage or throw it in your car for use any time you need it.

More items next time!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Bug-Out Location

            I tweeted recently about the distance to your bug-out location and upon reading it my eldest son asked, “So how far is it to OUR bug-out location?” First silence, then the realization that I don’t have a specific bug-out location in mind. 
            From the beginning of the blog, I have said I want to speak to the non-hardcore Prepper. I want to speak to people like myself who want to prepare for emergencies with the understanding that I don’t have the time or funding to really delve into the hardcore Prepper/Survivalist lifestyle. Remember, I’m the “Reluctant” Prepper. This isn’t being done for fun. I’m Prepping for necessity, for duty. 

So my plan was always to bug-in my home, leaving only if things get really bad. My preps are here. I could load the cars with most of my preparations and bug-out to my parents home in a smaller town if I have to, as a fall-back position. But if something was bad enough to get me to leave my home, we would likely have to leave theirs in time, also. If I had to walk, I could be ready to go in a few minutes with a few days worth of food and water.

I shouldn’t say that I never really thought about a bug-out location. I have and I have several spots picked out to reach for some cover. However, I don’t own the land and they are 50-70 miles away. They are relatively hidden, but this is CA and there are a lot of people. So not having land you own in a relatively secluded location can be tricky if things get hairy.

The ultimate treatise on choosing a Bug-out location is Rawles on Retreats and Relocation by James Wesley, Rawles.  If you want to hear from the authority on the subject, but his book and study it. If you have the extra scratch, you can hire him as a consultant before you buy your bug-out location. The first thing he would tell me is “move out of California.” I’d love t and when I win the lottery, I will.

Until then, I plan to look for locations that are not too far away. I would need to be able to walk there within 3 days (so about 100 miles). That only puts me a couple of hundred miles from Los Angeles, so I will need it to be secluded so the “zombies” that will be leaving the big city in droves will pass right by.

So what are my must-haves besides being within a three-day walk? Well, water access is most important. A spring would be good, but a river would work. Rain and snow melt could be captured in a cistern. Either way, I don’t want to have to have water trucked in. So a water source close by is very important.

A gentle climate is also desirable. Ultimately, I would build some structure with passive heating and cooling, but prolonged heat waves or below-freezing temperatures wouldn’t be good.

A renewable food supply would be nice. A lot of people just assume you can go into the woods and find food. Have you ever tried it? Sure, you can hunt game, but that will run out if you try and eat three meals a day like that. Have you ever foraged for berries or roots? It’s not easy and you better have some experience and/or resources you can go to for help.

Another thing you have to think about is defensibility. Unless you really want to spend a lot of time and money, you really have to just do your best. A home right next to a paved road is probably not the best. Dirt roads are most desirable. The more trees and bushes the better. 

Will you store goods there? Better make them secure. Buried would probably work best unless you are going to be visiting often. A hand-dug root cellar with a strong steel door and a big lock is expensive, but secure. Observant neighbors wouldn’t hurt.

This isn’t an exhaustive examination by any stretch. I hope to have a small plot of land sometime in the next year. I may even purchase land with some other people if possible. It will take a lot of time to get it ready, but important things are always worth doing. I suggest you do the same.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

More Reason to Prep?

            In the US, our elections are over and it seems that evil is winning. It shouldn’t be too great a surprise, but it is. Our greatest asset in this country is our liberty and it was wildly displayed last night. Yes, my friends, even the mentally deficient can vote and they do.

            Blame it on the failure of our education system (i.e., the failure of parents to ensure their kids education). Blame it on racism (favoring one race over another). Blame it on religious zealots (won’t vote for a cult member). Blame it on class envy (not gonna vote for a rich guy). Blame it on greed (don’t want my government check to get smaller). Take your pick, they all add up to some sort of mental deficiency.

            So what does the Prepper do? He endures. He keeps doing what he has been doing. He continues to plan and prepare for the unknown. Keep yourself on the down-low. Share your philosophy with others, but don’t shove it down their throat. Food and fuel is going to get a lot more expensive. Health care costs will skyrocket. The only one you can count on 100% of the time is yourself.

            For those of you that are on the east coast, stay strong. All of us at the Reluctant Prepper are praying for you. Look for items that will keep you warm and dry. Look for items to purify water. Seek shelter at all costs (even your pride). 

            I have a dream and that dream takes place four years from now.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

World War Z

            I guess I am coming to this book late, but I just spent the last week of my commute listening to the book “World War Z” by Max Brooks. The fictional (obviously) book is written as a collection of recollections about the time before, during and after a “zombie infection” rocks the planet. The accounts are from people from all around the world. Starting with “patient 0” in China and ending 10 years later with the current situation in some of the still-occupied northern countries. The book was published in 2006 and will be released next year as a feature starring Brad Pitt. 

            I absolutely loved this book! As far as reading goes, I devote the limited time I have to either non-fiction historical biographies or survival books, fiction or non-fiction, which I can learn from. This book didn’t really have any of the trappings I would normally enjoy. No “how-to” section to speak of and since the “enemies” don’t really exist, it would seem there is no redeeming “survival” information to speak of. But that is just not the case. It was pure entertainment with a little “survival” mindset to boot.

            What was most interesting to me was how the army had to change its tactics. After a huge, failed assault that left the whole eastern half of the United States as Zombie-occupied territory with over 200,000 million zombies, the American government was forced to change its fighting tactics completely (bomb shrapnel doesn’t always puncture the brain). Much of the world fairs even worse.

            One criticism I have heard of this book is that it is unpatriotic; pointing out how easily we were overrun and how poor the government response was initially. I don’t really see it that way. It is hard to fight wars. It is hard to win when your enemy is determined to die for their god. But, as is pointed out in the book, this enemy doesn’t have a god or a flag. They don’t stop to poop or hesitate to charge a skirmish line. They don’t get tired or drown in the water. They don’t care if you are sympathetic to them. They just want to eat you. How hard would it really be to fight an enemy like this? Maybe you should ask an oncologist. In the end, though, it is the American President (who may have been Colin Powell) that encourages the world to go back on the offensive.

            I doubt the movie will be as good as the book. The book was monologue-driven where the movie will be effects driven (because you really don’t want to hear Brad Pitt speak too much). I have high hopes, though. I would love to see Alan Alda and Mark Hamill in it, but I doubt it will happen.